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Poster: Ganbachi Date: Jul 31, 2009 1:37am
Forum: feature_films Subject: How pointless is USCO!

Here comes a rant (apologies in advance).

If all you need is a copyright symbol with a year on the film print to be in copyright then why would anyone ever register their work at all? I have seen a number of recent titles on there and the registration seems entirely unnecessary. I'm never going to mistakenly assume that 'X files' is PD but it has been registered. I may assume that 'Deadtime Stories' is PD because of it's limited distribution and lack of USCO entry but what I need to do is look to see whether it has a copyright symbol, check that the year is correct and then wonder? (In the UK, that film was released straight to video under the title 'Freaky Fairy Tales' and the distributor, EIV had superimposed their own copyright info as if they were copyrighting that title). With all of the 'List of Titles' entries it seems many people think that registering buys them the ownership rights to PD titles.

Also, the British television series 'The Invisible Man', on some dvd releases has a copyright 1957 title even though it wasn't made until 1958 let alone published.

I obviously understand the need for copyright protection but the US copyright laws are the most confused, ridiculous and unnecesarily complicated in the world. To have a system for corporations to register copyright and then to have it completely unnecessary is madness!

With all this chaos I'm despondent and right now I don't know what's copyright or not...

On another note, when I did my film degree, all of our work (except our first titleless experiments shooting & editing 16mm - are they PD?) carried this symbol and date. But since filmmaking is a collaborative effort if one of my production crew started making money out of them, I would have little chance to get my share. What protection do I get and would it be different if I (paid to) register?

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Poster: jonc Date: Jul 31, 2009 1:55pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: How pointless is USCO!

Copyright laws have changed many times over the years, and it's also just a good idea to register and have something on paper. Technically, anything published after 2002 requires neither a notice nor registration. But without these, if someone else were to claim your work, you would not have a lot of legal standing. In some cases, it may come down to your word against theirs.



This post was modified by jonc on 2009-07-31 20:55:23

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Poster: guyzilla Date: Jul 31, 2009 8:22pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: How pointless is USCO!

My gripe with USCO is the fact you cand only find registrations for films published in 1978 or later, mostly. I think it would be more constructive to make ALL the registrations and renewals accessable to the public no matter when the films were published, as it's a matter of public record. This would be useful to the copyright holders as well because it would reduce the risk of someone using their material being unaware of the copyright. That may change one day, but until then, it is what it is.

This post was modified by guyzilla on 2009-08-01 03:22:25

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Jul 31, 2009 8:34pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: How pointless is USCO!

The USCO has had a project to do this for a while (transfer all their records pre 1978 to the online database). They can't get funding for it. I recall someone from the USCO once said a number of rights lobby groups (guess who!!) are resistant to the level of online access to the catalogue that currently exists and outright oppose the expansion of the database.

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Poster: guyzilla Date: Jul 31, 2009 9:35pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: How pointless is USCO!

That sounds crazy. If people had access to this information, there would be much less copyright material turning up on the Archive, as well as less copyright films turning up in stores on dvd. I would think there would be more people for it than against it. I can understand the funding issue, though.

This post was modified by guyzilla on 2009-08-01 04:35:10

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Jul 31, 2009 11:52pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: How pointless is USCO!

I think it is really that the major rights lobbys don't want easy public access to copyright information at all. MGM, RKO, Universal, TCF and their successors are not interested in people knowing why and how they had periods of such administrative stupidities that they lost copyrights on whole seasons of film releases. Movies were thrown away becuase of Star/Producer reversion rights, administrative problems, copyright date inaccuracies and then theres the RKO secretary who burned the renewal triggers list when she was made redundant, effectivevely putting most of the 30-31 season in the PD. Studios have even tried to stop books like Film Superlist and other PD lists.
The Public Domain is pretty much a guessing game with the info that if freely available electronically. If the entire card file system was made available online the coyright status of works would pretty much become a hard science. Some rights owners like the confusion. Statutory penalties and settlements add up to a decent back line revenue stream. Keeping a rare copyright movie in the vault can make more money than having it available on video. This is pretty much Disney's sell-thru model. There's a book called "Freakonomics" on this stuff. They call it informational advantage. There is also an academic who wrote up an informative and entertaining article on the major studios and the Public Domain. It was in the journal of film history. I'll try and find the reference.

This post was modified by Video-Cellar on 2009-08-01 06:52:51

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Poster: guyzilla Date: Aug 1, 2009 3:53am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: How pointless is USCO!

The big studios would lose more on lawyers fees than they would hope to gain by suing me. I'm on disabilty.

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Aug 1, 2009 5:13am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: How pointless is USCO!

The movie industry mostly goes after companies (unlike the Record Industry who mostly go after individuals) for the higher potential per infringement penalties. The DVD companies can usually be insured for the damages if they show basic diligence in checcking, or third party supplier certification of, copyright status. The major studios employ entire legal departments for this sort of stuff. They don't always take the DVD cos to court. I have seen cease and desists where payment of all revenue from the title has been demanded. I suppose that forms the basis of an out of court settlement with the DVD co or their insuror.

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Poster: cosmicola Date: Jul 31, 2009 1:05pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: How pointless is USCO!

Hard to tell where your films will end up and how they may get used in somebody's clever little "mashup" effort.

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